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Patrick A. Miles Jr.
U.S. Attorney, Western District of Michigan Grand Rapids, Michigan
MILES OF MILESTONES
By Donald James
For most of his academic life and professional career, Patrick A. Miles Jr. has made historic strides worthy of amazement. His latest historic accomplishment occurred on July 9, 2012 when he became U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan in his hometown of Grand Rapids. Nominated by President Barack Obama, Miles is the first African-American to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, which is comprised of 49 counties in Michigan. He oversees an office of 35 attorneys and 40 other members of a legal and supporting staff.
Miles on his key responsibilities: "As U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, I am the chief federal law enforcement officer," explains Miles. "My office handles all of the federal criminal prosecutions in the district. We also handle civil law cases where the federal government is either a defendant being sued, or is a plaintiff suing. In addition, we handle some criminal cases on the 11 federal recognized Native American tribal territories."
On his nomination: "I was honored and humbled," says Miles. "To serve in my hometown of Grand Rapids, where I am a third generation resident, is a dream come true."
A product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, Miles was just 16 years old when he graduated from Ottawa Hills High School. He wanted to be a minister, and even attended Great Lakes Christian College in Lansing. He ultimately transferred to Aquinas College where he earned a bachelor's degree in business and economics. "I realized that I would be better off doing something more on the legal and business side," Miles reflects. "So I decided to pursue a career in law." Miles' next educational achievement was graduating from Harvard Law School at age 23. At Harvard, he made history by becoming the first African- American to serve as editor-in-chief of the student's newspaper, the Harvard Law Record.
With an impressive academic profile from Harvard, Miles could have written his own ticket to most high- profile law firms across America; yet he returned to Grand Rapids where he joined the law firm of Varnum Riddering Schmidt & Howlett, becoming the firm's first African-American associate in its110 year history. Miles ultimately became a partner. After a 15-year stay with the law firm, Miles joined the Grand Rapids-based Dickinson Wright as a partner. "My decision to return to Grand Rapids probably confounded many people," says Miles, with a laugh. "However, I love this community... and its people are very open and trustworthy. I just felt it was right to come home to Grand Rapids."
While busy with the vast responsibilities attached to the office of U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, Miles continues his passion for helping empower others in church, education, health, and minority business sectors. He currently serves in various leadership capacities with such community, civic and educational organizations as Aquinas College, Spectrum Health Hospitals, Inner-City Christian Federation and Grand Rapids Chamber of Black Commerce.
Reflecting on his 20-plus year law professional career of serving and helping people, Miles attributes his success to a credo instilled in him and his sister by their father (a retired Steelcase worker) and mother (a retired teacher from Grand Rapids Public Schools)..."The talents you have are God's gift to you...how you use them is your gift to God."
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